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Heaven Burns


heavenSince joining Mockingbird, I’ve had the opportunity to see many sides of foster care. One thing in particular that I’ve noticed is that many kids either are not aware of who is their social worker, or they haven’t developed a positive relationship with them.

My experience was an anomaly. Since leaving my father’s care and becoming a ward of the state three years ago, I have had a grand total of three state social workers and one Casey Family social worker, although I can only recall three of them. The name of the social worker I had upon entering the system has escaped me, and she was only my social worker for about a month. My last state social worker was a pleasant woman, though I only knew her for about two weeks and met with her once. My Casey Family social worker is great and she is the one who introduced me to my adoptive mom. The second state social worker was the one who was there as I went through the challenging and positive moments in my life.

At first I wasn’t sure I wanted a male social worker. I felt that he understood my discomfort, though, because every time we met, he brought along a female intern. I met with both of them at first and transitioned slowly to meet alone with my social worker. This process helped me to learn that his intentions were good, and he wanted me to be comfortable. He was very considerate of my feelings. I cared about him and I see him as a father figure. I never told him that, but I wish I had. 

He was very considerate of
my feelings. I cared
about him and I see him
as a father figure. I never
told him that, but I wish I had.

His actions and efforts made sure that I was happy where I was placed, and he did a great job. When things were not going well, he listened to me when I needed him to, and he encouraged me to speak up more. He never pressured me about permanency; he wanted me to be sure before I made any decisions. He also introduced me to the Independent Living Skills program to help me in my future endeavors. In addition, he introduced me to many people that continue to help and support me. Soon after, I became involved in Mockingbird. I am grateful that he made sure I was fully equipped for my future.

Unfortunately my social worker retired at the end of January, 2015. He came to my foster mom, soon to be adoptive mom’s home, and personally told me he was retiring. It was a huge shock to me because I imagined that he would stay to see me adopted, and I assumed he’d be there when I graduated. Our relationship had strengthened to where I’d felt that he’d always be there. I had grown so accustomed to him being in my life. Losing him as my social worker was like losing one of the only men who I have seen as a father. It felt as if it was a death in the family, because the only thing I could think of was that I would never get to see him again. But from my perspective, I also realized that I was his job, and his job was done. I know that he cared about what I wanted and my happiness because he demonstrated it time and time again.

I am thankful and appreciative that I was able to have my social worker in my life. He has helped me in so many ways, and I’ll always be grateful. I hope that other foster kids will be able to have the same experience and connection with their social workers that I had.

<< go to May 2015 Mockingbird Times

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We Welcome
Your Work

We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit www.mockingbirdsociety.org, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ mockingbirdsociety.org. Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.